Men’s Testimony

“Hi, I’m from Dublin. I was raised in a good family and had everything I wanted growing up but when I was young I was attracted to a lot of trouble. I remember in school I always made it as hard as I could for the teachers to do their job, I didn’t want to listen and was very disruptive. Then when I was fourteen years old, I got thrown out of school and when that happened, I went completely out of control.

I began hanging around with other lads who weren’t in school either and started to smoke hash, drink a lot and steal cars. I was getting in trouble with the police a bit and when I was seventeen I got the opportunity to go and work in Ibiza. I jumped at the chance to go and when I got there, I realised very quickly that drugs were like a way of life there. I was there for two seasons and in that time I thought I was having the time of my life but couldn’t see the bigger picture.

I started to take ecstasy and cocaine for a little while then I got involved with a gang of lads and started to sell a lot of ecstasy. I was making a lot of money and thought I was lucky but in the end I started to do crack cocaine and like this all the money I was making seemed to evaporate and I got into debt. In the end I left the island in a hurry because the fear I had of these lads was too big.

When I got back to Dublin, I felt in pieces and had not wanted to do anything. I started to hang around with heroin addicts and through my own choice started to take heroin. What followed was six years of hell. I started to rob to get money and my family suffered a lot. I didn’t have normal thoughts, the only thing I thought about was where to get the money and heroin.

Then my Mam found out about Cenacolo and at this stage I was in pieces and thought I was too weak to enter somewhere like Cenacolo but in the time I was going to the meetings, I had a couple of friends who died of drug related deaths and knew I was heading that way myself so I entered into the house in Knock when I was twenty-five and it wasn’t easy because I started to face my fears and difficulties without drugs or alcohol and that was something I hadn’t done in my life but I saw with time that I was getting stronger and started to see the person that drugs made me and the person I was becoming. From Knock I was transferred to a house in the UK and having spent some time there, I was transferred to Italy.

I’ve learnt so much in Community. I’ve learnt to work, speak Italian, play the guitar and more importantly how to live without drugs. Now because of Community I have choices again and can see a future for the first time in my life.”

A Parent’s Testimony

“To cut a long story short, my son had been on heroin for 10 years, together with Methadone and was heavily dependent on both. We had been to many counselling and treatment centres during this period but nothing seemed to work until we came across a charity called Community Cenacolo, which I was told had a very high success rate.

My son was reluctant to go anywhere but after six months attending meetings in Dublin (much longer than most, his choice as he wasn’t ready), which did actually help him from week to week, he eventually went down to the lads house in Knock. The house in Knock is lovely but much smaller than the other 60 plus houses worldwide. For various reasons it was decided that Sean would be better in the UK house and so having spent two working days in Knock, he flew to Kendal.

As is the programme, we didn’t see Sean until the next family weekend which in his case was 7 months later. I, my husband, his sister and cousin travelled over to visit him and could not believe the change in that short space of time. His head was a lot clearer, he looked well and actually stood up and gave his testimony which is something he would never have done. He was learning Italian to prepare him in case he got transferred, he was playing the guitar, doing building work, looking after animals, cooking and taking part in adoration, etc.

After sixteen months in that house he was transferred to Italy, and as the family weekend was approaching we went over to see him, five weeks after he’d arrived. He was great and speaking fluent Italian, carrying out various commitments and playing the guitar at Mass. Sean stayed in Cenacolo a total of 3½ years and it is 8 years since he left. He is still doing well thank God, got married last April to a lovely girl in the UK and they bought their house a few months ago.

The lovely thing about Community Cenacolo is that there is no time limit, some may not stay as long and some stay much longer – everyone is treated on their own individual merits. There is no cost and they depend on divine providence. If they haven’t got something, they pray for it and the generosity of people is amazing in helping these men and women change their lives. Myself and my family are so grateful for the opportunity and it not only changed our son’s life but the entire family. ”

Women’s Testimonies

“I am a twenty-eight year old girl from Co. Louth. I am happy to be a part of the family of Cenacolo. I entered in Community two years ago in Italy because of my drug problem.

As a child I was timid and shy and had many fears of being different from the others. As the years passed, the shyness and closure grew and the fears to the world. Many times I felt powerless in the situations that were happening in my life and instead of facing them, I started to escape.

At the age of fifteen, I started smoking hash and taking other light drugs, then one day arrived Heroin. With the drug I was overcoming my fears, filling the emptiness, numbing my sufferance and escaping from reality. Slowly, slowly I was becoming blind, falling deeper and deeper into the world of darkness, sadness, dishonesty and losing the will to live. I was desperate.

Then a priest that I know helped me to get in contact with Cenacolo. I attended some meetings and with the help and support of the persons beside me I overcame my difficulties and entered. Today, I can honestly say that it was the best decision I have ever made. It hasn’t been easy but with the help of the others, I am getting to know myself as the person I was created to be. Thanks be to God, he is helping open my heart every day and I feel the forgiveness and love of him through my sisters and, most importantly, feel accepted for whom I am.

The prayer, true friendship, love and respect for one another and many other simple values is what the Lord is offering me today and I am happy to choose them. The Community has helped me, not only to see my shortcomings and poverties, but also to discover many beautiful gifts I have inside to share them with others and as the time is passing I feel more peace, joy, happiness and when the difficult moments arrive I don’t feel alone because with the strength and will of the Lord, he is helping me carry my cross forward and to be more mature. He is healing the wounds inside me. I am finding my happiness in giving to the others.

Now I’m in the house in Medjugorje and I know in my heart more miracles wait for me here. I give thanks every day for the presence of Mother Elvira in my life for her courage and love for us.

I want to thank my mam for the life she gave me, for never losing hope. The greatest thanks goes to the Lord who saved me and gave me the possibility to start living again with faith and many good desires in my heart.”

A Sister’s Testimony

“I am twenty-one years old and from Dublin. I want to highlight how much Cenacolo has done for my brother and the whole family as a unit.

There’s a lot I remember from my childhood. In many senses my childhood was abundant. My mother and father always provided a loving atmosphere. We were well looked after and were taught right from wrong. However, once the plague of drug addiction crept in, we all suffered.

I was nine the first time I stepped inside a prison. My mother took me to visit my brother. I remember being confused as to how to take the police. At school we were shown the image of the heroic policeman who was a protector of our community, while at home they were the men who barged through our house shouting and taking our brother away.

I remember too, the long journeys down to visit him in Cork prison. Even though my brother’s big greeting smile hid a lot, it couldn’t hide how lost he was underneath. When he came out of prison he could no longer hide his addiction. I remember my mother trying to talk to him and get him to attend the Cenacolo meetings. He would agree to go but I don’t think he had any real intentions of entering.

The day he did finally enter I didn’t believe he had really gone and kept expecting him to knock at the door! Eleven months after my brother left Ireland my Mam and I went to Italy for the festival. I can’t say what I was expecting, an average treatment centre, I suppose. What I found was far from this. It literally blew me away and all I could describe it as was amazing! It was emotional seeing my brother for the first time in as long as I could remember so full of life. It was probably the first time I saw my brother genuinely happy and he was so healthy. I was so happy to see how much Cenacolo had done for him.

It has given us back the brother we knew before drugs. Cenacolo has given us back the big brother we look up to and are proud of. Cenacolo saved his life and has brought us all closer as a family unit. I feel that the Community has reassured me in my faith and given me stronger trust in God. I am so grateful for everything this journey has given me and my family.”